Today dozens of Web sites around the Internet are blacking out their content as part of a general protest of the proposed SOPA and PIPA bills. These aren’t just any Web sites. According to statistics from Alexa, they are some of the most visited sites in the United States, including Wikipedia.com (#6) and Craigslist.com (#9).
In aggregate, there are tens of millions of people who use the services of these sites every day. Be it to research a history paper with the help of Wikipedia or to trade a paper clip for a house on Craigslist. Where could Web users go instead? We’ve deputized the powers of similar site lookup services such as timetotag and siteslike.com to help us figure out alternatives.
Wikipedia (Alexa ranked #6)
TimeToTag suggests other professional encyclopedia sites like Brittanica or the crowdsourced infoplease.com and answers.com. Brittanica is a sturdy choice for traditional research but it lacks the deep reservoir of pop-culture knowledge that Wikipedia’s army of contributors brings to the table. A search for information on Battlestar Gallactica turns up no information about Cyclon robots.
Answers.com has some helpful information, but it is also quite limited. The entry on President Obama was last updated around his inauguration. Student researchers might be better served waiting until the blackout is over, but if you absolutely must try, the folks on our Style blog have a nice roundup of other online research options.
Craigslist (Alexa #9)
Some brave soul actually tried to launch an entire site for Craigslist alternatives. Possibly realizing the Sisyphean odds of their task, they stopped updating it in 2008.
There are alternatives for specific functions of Craigslist out there. If you need to buy or sell tickets to a sports event, you can always use StubHub.com. Though, unlike Craigslist, they’ll charge you fees on either side of the transaction. There are apartment finder Web sites and groups like freecycle that can help you unload your old toasters and tube TVs. But as for the wistful longings logged in Craigslist missed connections section .... there is just no substitute.
Reddit (Alexa #115)
Reddit, that hive-minded mutating message board news aggregator, might be one of the toughest to replace. You can’t go to fellow news of the weird collector Fark.com (Alexa #884). Bored Redditors could try migrating back over to Digg.com. Though many jumped ship back in 2010 when Digg unveiled a site redesign.
Internet Archive (Alexa #226)
The folks at Archive.org have gone dark and taken their unmatched collection of online history with them. As the only keepers of the WayBackMachine which houses archived copies of Web sites back to the early days of the Internet, there is no true alternative.
The Internet Archive also houses live show recordings from a variety of musical acts. Groups like the Grateful Dead and Tenacious D all have shows streaming and available for download. Deadheads can go back to their roots and find partners for cassette tape trading. But they’re more likely to find a Donna-less ‘70s version of ‘Shakedown Street’ by waiting out the protest than resorting to these old brick and mortar methods.
The lesson in all this: Tomorrow can’t get here soon enough.